ARE our schoolchildren subjected to too much physical punishment in the pursuit of academic excellence in SJK (C) and SJK (T)?
The letters from Worried Mother “Primary students need highly skilled teachers” (The Star, Sept 4) and Concerned Mother “Fast to use the cane” (The Star, Sept 25) may provide a glimpse into its usage in vernacular schools.
Take the case of the SJK (C) – parents enrol their children for its teaching of Mandarin and emphasis on subjects like maths and science apart from its promotion of cultural values through co-curricular activities.
It has become a popular choice among parents when choosing a primary school for their children. Without a doubt, the schools have fulfilled the task entrusted to them well, but at a price.
Top of the list are the workbooks of various subjects which presumably aim to help students achieve academic excellence. The work load can be reflected in the heavy schoolbags which they lug to school each day.
The teachers, while trying to carry out their daily lessons plan diligently, scramble to complete the workbooks and in the process, the student-centred pedagogy is side-lined and a cane has replaced it to control the class of over 35 energetic students to enable the teachers concerned to achieve the desirable level of learning.
Come 2013, the Year Three students will be taught an extra History subject which aims to instil patriotism among our young minds and before 2017, the Bahasa Melayu subject which is currently taught using a simpler syllabus, will be upgraded to the same syllabus used in the SK schools as listed in the National Education Blueprint.
By then, Year Four, Five and Six pupils will have to attend extra classes in the afternoons to cope with both tougher Malay Language and English Language in line with the MBMMBI policy.
While the noble aim of its implementation is laudable, students will be further taxed to perform to the expectation of their teachers. Thus, the implementation of ‘Penilaian Berdasarkan Sekolah’(PBS) or School-Based Assessment in 2012 is a move in the right direction.
It is less exam-orientated and the emphasis is on continuous assessment.
Currently, Year One, Year Two and Form One students seem to be much happier as they do not have much homework to do and literally no monthly exams and mid-year exams to sit for.
As PBS requires the students’ academic progress to be monitored constantly, the teaching and learning process and the subsequent school-based evaluations should be strictly gauged to reflect the true achievements of the students’ ability.
Theoretically, the students work on their own efforts and elicit the guidance of parents and teachers to complete the assignments given.
An alternative choice to SJK (C) or SJK (T) is the international schools. Those parents who have reservations about the teaching pedagogy and the amount of schoolwork of these vernacular schools can reconsider their choice.
The syllabus which emphasises English (some taught by native speakers) and mind-provoking Maths and Science is practical and realistic while other subjects like BM, Chinese, ICT, Dramas, Art and games are taught too in an interesting manner.
Classes are relatively small, facilities are adequate and physical lessons are varied.
My son, a former vernacular school pupil who frowned each time he returned from school, started to beam after I admitted him to Austin Heights International School in Johor Baru.
Though the fees burn a hole in my pocket, hearing him say “I enjoy going to school very much” is worth every single sen that I have spent on his education.
TING LIAN LEE Johor Baru The STAR Online Home News Opinion Sunday October 7, 2012